|Birth name||Frederick Leroy Hemke Jr.|
|Born||July 11, 1935|
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Died||April 17, 2019 83) (aged|
|Associated acts||Northwestern University|
Fred Hemke, DMA (néFrederick Leroy Hemke Jr.; July 11, 1935 – April 17, 2019) was an American virtuoso classical saxophonist and influential professor of saxophone at Northwestern University. Hemke helped raise the popularity of classical saxophone, particularly among leading American composers and helped raise the recognition of classical saxophone in solo, chamber, and major orchestral repertoire. For a half century, from 1962 to 2012, Hemke was a full-time faculty music educator at Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music. In 2002, Hemke was named Associate Dean Emeritus of the School of Music.Hemke retired from Northwestern University in 2012. From the start of his career in the early 1960s, building on the achievements of earlier influential American teachers of classical saxophone — including those of Larry Teal, Joseph Allard, Cecil Leeson, Sigurd Raschèr, and Vincent Abato — Hemke, and a handful of peer American saxophonists — including Eugene Rousseau and Donald Sinta — helped build American saxophone repertoire through composers that included Muczynski, Creston, Stein, Heiden, and Karlins. Journalist and author Michael Segell, in his 2005 book, The Devil's Horn, called Hemke "The Dean of Saxophone Education in America." Hemke died on April 17, 2019.
From 1955 to 1956, Hemke studied saxophone with Marcel Mule at the Paris Conservatoire National de Musique et de Declamation, earning in 1956 the Premier Prix diploma.Hemke holds the distinction of being the first American saxophonist to earn a Premier Prix diploma from the Paris Conservatory. In 1958, Hemke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. In 1962, he earned a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. In 1975, Hemke earned an A.Mus.D. degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
In primary and secondary school, until the start of college, Hemke studied saxophone with Eddie Schmidt, a jobbing teacher, band director in Milwaukee, and a close friend of Ralph Joseph Hermann (1914–1994) — musician, composer, songwriter, and music publisher. Hemke was highly influenced by Schmidt's recording of Marcel Mule — and also of his recordings of Al Gallodoro, and Freddy Gardner. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Hemke studied with Jay Morton, teacher of woodwinds. Hemke did not have a formal saxophone teacher at Eastman, but while there, studied reeds with clarinetist Stanley Hasty (1920–2011), flute repertoire with Joseph Mariano (1911–2007), and oboe repertoire with Robert Sprenkle (1914–1988).
Hemke taught saxophone at Northwestern's School of Music for fifty years. He began in 1962 as a teaching associate. In 1964 he became an assistant professor and was appointed chairman of the newly formed Winds and Percussion Instruments Department. In 1967 Hemke was elevated to associate professor; on September 1, 1975, Full Professor; and on September 1, 1991, chairman of the Department of Music Performance Studies at the School of Music. Hemke served as senior associate dean for administration in the School of Music from 1995 to 2001. In 2002, Hemke was named the Louis and Elsie Snydacker Eckstein Professor of Music and also named associate dean emeritus of the School of Music. He retired from full-time teaching in 2012. As a music educator in higher education, Hemke has taught hundreds of saxophonists, many of whom have flourished as performing artists and music educators of international rank.
Selected former students:
Hemke was well known as the designer of a line of reeds which bear the trademark "Frederick L. Hemke Reeds." Rico Reeds began making the brand in 1982. Hemke was an artist-clinician for The Selmer Company,the North American distributor of saxophones made in France by the Paris firm, Henri Selmer Paris. In 1979 Hemke was host for the Sixth World Saxophone Congress held at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.
Hemke was an internationally acclaimed saxophone artist. Hemke has appeared extensively as a solo artist and has given master classes and lectures in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, and the Far East. He performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and many other orchestras. He premiered several works for saxophone, including Allan Pettersson's Symphony No. 16 (February 24, 1983)and James Di Pasquale's Sonata for tenor saxophone. Di Pasquale, a prolific composer, had studied saxophone with Hemke and Sigurd Rascher.
In a traditional modern saxophone quartet — B♭ soprano, E♭ alto, B♭ tenor, and E♭ baritone saxophone — repertoire and popularity for solo classical was, and still is, dominated by B♭ soprano and E♭ alto saxophone. Bucking the trend, Hemke spent time focusing on the B♭ tenor as a classical solo instrument, as evidenced by the release of his 1971 solo album, Music for Tenor Saxophone. In orchestral music, the tenor is known as one of the three saxophone voices in Ravel's Boléro — originally performed by two saxophonists, one on E♭ sopranino and one on tenor doubling on B♭ soprano. Recordings by tenor saxophone virtuoso James Houlik and others notwithstanding, classical tenor saxophone recordings make up a small portion of the classical saxophone repertoire and discography universe.
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Commissions and dedications
|1956||Premiere Prix du Saxophone, Paris Conservatory; Hemke was the first American to win a First Prize from the Conservatory; his achievement inspired other American saxophonist to work towards First Prize diplomas at the Paris Conservatory, and other well-known European conservatories known for classical saxophone, including the Royal Conservatory of Brussels|
|1976–1978||Founding coordinator of the North American Saxophone Alliance; later awarded Honorary Life Membership|
|1999–2001||Distinguished Service to Music Medal, Kappa Kappa Psi, for Instrumental Music Education|
|2004||Appointed the Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern University|
|2013||Centerstage Lifetime Achievement Award, Conn-Selmer|
|2013||Honorary Alumni Award, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois|
Hemke had been a primary design consultant for the S-80 mouthpiece manufactured by Henri Selmer Paris. For alto saxophone, Hemke uses a custom version of the S-80. The mouthpiece is metal with a square chamber.
The Selmer Mark VII E♭ alto and B♭ tenor saxophones, introduced in 1974, were designed in consultation with Hemke.
Hemke Legacy Tribute: May 29 – June 3, 1912, Northwestern University
| Full-time faculty, saxophone|
Bienen School of Music
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